Diversity boosts American entrepreneurship, supports immigrant small business owners • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine
July 4 marks American independence and also reminds us that over the past 247 years, America’s economy has also grown and flourished thanks to immigrants. Diversity is the fabric of our combined stories of immigrant, Native American, enslaved and free African Americans that helps create an inclusive and thriving American economy, flourishing communities and financial security.
While June was National Immigrant Heritage Month, which honors America as a nation of immigrants who have contributed much to our labor and economic growth, Independence Day also invites us to remember the contributions of immigrants who authentically participate in the American economy and start small businesses, creating jobs and generational wealth. Their contributions foster innovation in manufacturing, science, technology, agribusiness, retail, education, care services and many other industries.
I’m the proud daughter of immigrants, an Asian American woman of color who is an advocate for inclusive economic growth and entrepreneurship. My mother was an immigrant from the Philippines who was widowed one month after becoming a citizen. She had three children under the age of five and found herself a single parent who had to work two minimum wage jobs just to put food on the table. Along the way, and unbeknownst to her at the time, a part-time side hustle as a domestic childcare worker made her a self-employed entrepreneur. With that one stint she represents entrepreneurs from socioeconomically disadvantaged communities that today the SBA is making concerted efforts to reach. Under President Joe Biden’s Invest in America initiative, the SBA is meeting people where they are at, from the bottom-up to the middle-out.
I know firsthand how wealth is linked to improved health status and housing security, but business ownership is the next best way to build wealth next to home ownership. However, access to resources to build social capital, knowledge capital and financial capital is challenging for low- and moderate-income and working-class individuals seeking to start and grow small businesses.
American commitment to diversity and inclusion creates a more level playing field for disadvantaged and immigrant communities in urban and rural areas. U.S. Census data shows that foreign-born immigrants account for 25% of the rural Hispanic and Latino population, and 74% of the rural Asian population in the U.S. Under the leadership of SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, who is the highest-ranking Hispanic/Latina cabinet member, the SBA has made reforms to reduce systemic barriers and strengthen entrepreneurship by:
Broadening access to affordable capital by reducing red tape so that more rural and underserved communities can access flexible, affordable capital. A lack of, or poor creditworthiness, is a barrier to financing for many immigrant entrepreneurs. The SBA is doubling down on mission-based lending by expanding access to business financing and providing no-cost capital management counseling and education for owners who have low or limited credit and assets. It’s easy to find help at over 900 locations nationwide through our SBA field offices and resource partners.
Boosting outreach to first-generation immigrant entrepreneurs to teach them how to export products and services to their ancestral countries. By becoming a global small business, exporting helps immigrant entrepreneurs increase their bottom-line and create jobs in their local communities by doing business with the 96% of consumers outside the United States.
I am proud to work with my dedicated colleagues at the U.S. Small Business Administration who are implementing initiatives on the ground that modernize the SBA and broaden access to resources for the nation’s 33 million small business owners. For more information on how the SBA can help you, I encourage you to reach out to the Indiana District Office at www.sba.gov/in — check their upcoming events calendar for workshops and webinars, take in some online learning, peruse the how-to guides in English or other languages, and connect with an SBA resource partner in your neighborhood for one-on-one mentorship and advice. It’s time for you to take your slice of the American entrepreneurial pie. Let the SBA help you begin your journey today.
U.S. Small Business Administration Regional Administrator Geri Sanchez Aglipay was named by the White House to oversee the delivery of the SBA’s agency’s programs, field offices, and operations across Region V in the Great Lakes Midwest states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. The first Filipino American woman to be appointed to an SBA regional position by any presidential administration, Aglipay is the principal representative of SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman and provides interface with regional, state and local elected and appointed officials, trade organizations and small business communities across the region.